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Summary Prototype and exemplar theories are both versions of statistical theories of concepts. These theories generally hold that concepts represent categories by means of some statistically important properties of their referents. Prototype theories hold that concepts represent categories by means of a summary of the typical properties that category members possess. Exemplar theories hold that concepts represent categories by means of a cluster of individual category members that may be used to extract the statistical central tendency of the category.
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  1. Thomas Adajian (2005). On the Prototype Theory of Concepts and the Definition of Art. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 63 (3):231–236.
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  2. Jerry A. Fodor (1998). Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong. Oxford University Press.
    The renowned philosopher Jerry Fodor, a leading figure in the study of the mind for more than twenty years, presents a strikingly original theory on the basic constituents of thought. He suggests that the heart of cognitive science is its theory of concepts, and that cognitive scientists have gone badly wrong in many areas because their assumptions about concepts have been mistaken. Fodor argues compellingly for an atomistic theory of concepts, deals out witty and pugnacious demolitions of rival theories, and (...)
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  3. Jerry A. Fodor (1995). Concepts: A Potboiler. Philosophical Issues 50 (1-3):133-51.
  4. Jerry A. Fodor & Ernest LePore (1996). The Red Herring and the Pet Fish: Why Concepts Still Can't Be Prototypes. Cognition 58 (2):253-70.
    1 There is a Standard Objection to the idea that concepts might be prototypes (or exemplars, or stereotypes): Because they are productive, concepts must be compositional. Prototypes aren't compositional, so concepts can't be prototypes (see, e.g., Margolis, 1994).2 However, two recent papers (Osherson and Smith, 1988; Kamp and Partee, 1995) reconsider this consensus. They suggest that, although the Standard Objection is probably right in the long run, the cases where prototypes fail to exhibit compositionality are relatively exotic and involve phenomena (...)
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  5. Christopher Gauker (1998). Building Block Dilemmas. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (1):26-27.
    Feature-based theories of concept formation face two dilemmas. First, for many natural concepts, it is hard to see how the concepts of the features could be developmentally more basic. Second, concept formation must be guided by “abstraction heuristics,” but these can be neither universal principles of rational thought nor natural conventions.
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  6. Christopher Gauker (1993). An Extraterrestrial Perspective on Conceptual Development. Mind and Language 8 (1):105-30.
    The network theory of conceptual development is the theory that conceptual developmentmay be represented as a process of constructing a network of linked nodes. The nodes of such a network represent concepts and the links between nodes represent relations between concepts. The structure of such a network is not determined by experience alone but must evolve in accordance with abstraction heuristics, which constrain the varieties of network between which experience must decide. This paper criticizes the network theory on the grounds (...)
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  7. Richard E. Grandy (1990). Concepts, Prototypes, and Information. In Enrique Villanueva (ed.), Information, Semantics, and Epistemology. Blackwell.
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  8. James A. Hampton (2000). Concepts and Prototypes. Mind and Language 15 (2-3):299-307.
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  9. Edouard Machery (2009). Doing Without Concepts. Oxford University Press.
    Over recent years, the psychology of concepts has been rejuvenated by new work on prototypes, inventive ideas on causal cognition, the development of neo-empiricist theories of concepts, and the inputs of the budding neuropsychology of concepts. But our empirical knowledge about concepts has yet to be organized in a coherent framework. -/- In Doing without Concepts, Edouard Machery argues that the dominant psychological theories of concepts fail to provide such a framework and that drastic conceptual changes are required to make (...)
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  10. Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence (eds.) (1999). Concepts: Core Readings. MIT Press.
    The first part of the book centers around the fall of the Classical Theory of Concepts in the face of attacks by W. V. O. Quine, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Eleanor ...
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  11. Marco Mazzone & Elisabetta Lalumera (2010). Concepts: Stored or Created? [REVIEW] Minds and Machines 20 (1):47-68.
    Are concepts stable entities, unchanged from context to context? Or rather are they context-dependent structures, created on the fly? We argue that this does not constitute a genuine dilemma. Our main thesis is that the more a pattern of features is general and shared, the more it qualifies as a concept. Contextualists have not shown that conceptual structures lack a stable, general core, acting as an attractor on idiosyncratic information. What they have done instead is to give a contribution to (...)
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  12. U. Neisser (ed.) (1981). Concepts and Conceptual Development. Cambridge University Press.
    Concepts and Conceptual Development draws together theorists from a wide range of theoretical orientations to consider many different aspects of 'the psychology ...
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  13. Daniel N. Osherson & Edward E. Smith (1981). On the Adequacy of Prototype Theory as a Theory of Concepts. Cognition 9 (1):35-58.
  14. Alfredo Paternoster (1998). The Alleged Incompatibility of Prototypes and Compositionality. Acta Analytica 20 (20):61-69.
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  15. Jesse J. Prinz (2002). Furnishing the Mind: Concepts and Their Perceptual Basis. MIT Press.
    In Furnishing the Mind, Jesse Prinz attempts to swing the pendulum back toward empiricism.
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  16. Georges Rey (1983). Concepts and Stereotypes. Cognition 15 (1-3):237-62.
  17. Philip Robbins (2002). How to Blunt the Sword of Compositionality. Noûs 36 (2):313-334.
  18. Nathan Stemmer (1989). Empiricist Versus Prototype Theories of Language Acquisition. Mind and Language 4 (3):201-221.
  19. Savas L. Tsohatzidis (ed.) (1990). Meanings and Prototypes: Studies in Linguistic Categorization. Routledge.
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  20. Jaap van Brakel (1991). Meaning, Prototypes, and the Future of Cognitive Science. Minds and Machines 1 (3):233-57.
    In this paper I evaluate the soundness of the prototype paradigm, in particular its basic assumption that there are pan-human psychological essences or core meanings that refer to basic-level natural kinds, explaining why, on the whole, human communication and learning are successful. Instead I argue that there are no particular pan-human basic elements for thought, meaning and cognition, neither prototypes, nor otherwise. To illuminate my view I draw on examples from anthropology. More generally I argue that the prototype paradigm exemplifies (...)
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  21. Daniel A. Weiskopf (2009). The Plurality of Concepts. Synthese 169 (1):145 - 173.
    Traditionally, theories of concepts in psychology assume that concepts are a single, uniform kind of mental representation. But no single kind of representation can explain all of the empirical data for which concepts are responsible. I argue that the assumption that concepts are uniformly the same kind of mental structure is responsible for these theories’ shortcomings, and outline a pluralist theory of concepts that rejects this assumption. On pluralism, concepts should be thought of as being constituted by multiple representational kinds, (...)
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  22. Daniel A. Weiskopf (2007). Atomism, Pluralism, and Conceptual Content. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (1):131-163.
    Conceptual atomists argue that most of our concepts are primitive. I take up three arguments that have been thought to support atomism and show that they are inconclusive. The evidence that allegedly backs atomism is equally compatible with a localist position on which concepts are structured representations with complex semantic content. I lay out such a localist position and argue that the appropriate position for a non-atomist to adopt is a pluralist view of conceptual structure. I show several ways in (...)
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